23 May 2014

Seoul by findingmomo

8/11

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I have let Lee and Charlotte talk me into clubbing at NB2, where I find myself constantly tearing from the cigarette smoke that the place is filled with. Everyone looks so young here. The night turns out to be more fun than expected because the music is hip-hop - can't think of a cooler way to say that - "DJ dropped some sick beats"? K let's not try. Oh and we ran into a douchey white guy who wasn't even hot. Unacceptable.

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We stumble out of NB2 at 3 a.m. and an old-school K-pop themed club across the street catches my eye. I get irrationally excited at the thought of shouting along to Fin.K.L and Shinhwa songs (They're blasting H.O.T's "Candy"!!! My age is showing!!!) but the other two aren't keen so we give it a miss :( I WILL RETURN SOMEDAY.

The streets of Hongdae are quiet but not entirely so. We climb up the stairs to the playground, where there are a couple of buskers singing sweetly to a small audience.

I am exhausted but manage to wolf down a bowl of instant udon and have a text conversation before crashing. My dreams that night are filled with unasked and unanswered questions.

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After entering and leaving a tiny cafe which was cute enough but didn't serve anything other than sandwiches we spotted Seoga & Cook. It's a recently-opened franchise which has gotten pretty good reviews.

The Korean take on Italian food is a queer one. Dishes are sweetened, creamed and served with pickles. The servings here were huge as they're meant for sharing, so please take a cue from fellow diners and do not order a dish for yourself. Overall the food was okay, but hardly memorable enough to warrant a repeat visit.

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Technically there are cafes everywhere in Hongdae now, but my Korean friend refers to this particular lane in Hongdae (where you have to walk through to get to Style Nanda) as cafe alley.

We spent the afternoon in the vicinity of cafe alley, entering every boutique in the neighborhood. Korean salespeople are way chattier than Singaporean ones, who pretty much leave you to it. The downside of this aggressive sales attitude is that I find it pretty much find it impossible to say no to whatever they're selling me. I end up with a ton of clothes I don't need but with no remorse whatsoever.

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The useful thing about exploring familiar territory is that you'll learn over time where all the restrooms accessible to the public are. If you're at cafe alley in Hongdae and want to use the bathroom without having to spend money on a drink, there's one on the second storey of the same building where a cafe called Be Sweet On is located.

That said, Be Sweet On is in itself worth a visit. This was my third time there over a span of two years and I can safely say that they serve consistently great dessert. Be sure to try the tarte tatin, a towering confection of caramelized apples, flaky puff pastry and vanilla bean ice cream. If I were you I would avoid the flowery iced teas. I ordered one last year and kept thinking of hand soap as I drank it.

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On one end of the Korean BBQ spectrum you have affordable cuts of meat like samgyeopsal (pork belly), and on the other end there's the luxurious hanwoo, the Korean equivalent of wagyu beef.

I rarely eat hanwoo because hello $$$, but we decided to go for it that night. Found a place near the apartment which served it, so props for convenience.

We were a little wary when we arrived, because the restaurant was maybe only 20% full. The family who ran the place appeared to be sitting down to dinner as well, but the ajumma who served us was attentive and friendly. Well when the food you're serving is as expensive as this...

It turned out to be so good we ordered a double portion. The marbling, the smokiness, the juices. Such an intense experience. "Wow," was all we kept saying throughout dinner.

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More shopping near the Hongdae playground but I reined my spending in since I'd bought enough clothes in the afternoon "to clothe a small village", as my father always says. This is the same man who asks if I'm a caterpillar each time he sees my growing shoe collection.

Paid a visit to the candy floss direwolf. Always nice to see an old friend, though it's impossible to tell if he remembers me.

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We'd been wanting to try the chicken at 노랑통닭 since we saw it packed with diners on our first night in Korea.

While we waited for our take-out Lee struck up a conversation with the Korean lady next to her who asked her what the multiple black lines on her hand were. They were actually from 30 different eyeliners Lee had tested on her hand as we did our shopping in Hongdae. I let Lee answer on her own because I didn't want to seem crazy by association.

Shortly after we noticed a diner with a very good looking side profile. Let's just leave it at that and pretend that we didn't try to take stealth shots of him.

Tucked into the chicken at our apartment but it was kinda underwhelming. I think the chicken we had on Sunday night fried by clapping ajumma was way better.